FFor years, it was thought that the sun was the worst skin offender, and there’s no denying the fact that the its UVA and UVB rays are detrimental to the health and appearance of the skin. But there’s no negating just how destructive pollution is, too. Nor the fact that pollution dramatically speeds up the rate at which skin ages.
If you think you’re totally safe from pollution, guess again. Approximately 92 percent of people around the world live in cities that do not currently comply with WHO air quality standards. While it’s hard to completely avoid exposure to pollution, the damage it does to our DNA, skin cells and body continues to rise. Everything from UV radiation to hydrocarbons, smog, particulate matter, automobile exhaust, and cigarette smoke negatively affect the skin’s outermost layer, which is the barrier that protects against disease and toxins. Chemicals attach to these pollutants in the air and damage the skin and body by creating oxidative stress, which in turn breaks down collagen, elastin, increases extrinsic aging, and ups the risk for skin cancer and skin conditions, like psoriasis, acne and eczema. And, of course, a connection has been made between air pollution and age spots, pigmentation and wrinkles thanks to research released by the University of Dusseldorf in Germany. In the study, air pollution was pegged as the leading cause of pigmentation on the cheeks.
Not every skincare ingredient out there can shield the body and skin from the harmful effects associated with air pollution but taking the proper precautions and using proven ingredients that mitigate the damage should be part of a sure-fire anti-aging approach. Here, our top three ways to protect against pollution damage: